Crisis is the great revealer. As the pandemic swept across our planet, we saw how some of our leaders reacted swiftly while others waited too long to the detriment of their own populations. So too has there been a great revealing in every one of us. Some have found an ability to deal with stress they didn't know we had. Others tapped new leadership capabilities to help keep our teammates' spirits up. Some also discovered they are not as disciplined as they would like to believe (I still don’t have that quarantine-body I imagined I'd have). Many of us also learned more about our ability to ask for help and our ability to receive it. And though each of us reacted differently to the circumstances we all face, there is one thing that was revealed to all of us: we cannot do this alone.
Human beings are social animals and our ability to survive as a species depends on our ability to cooperate. It's in our DNA. When a natural disaster, like an earthquake or a hurricane destroys a town or a city, we see people come together in common cause. All the things we bicker about and debate the rest of the time seem to just disappear. It is during these times that political leanings fall away and we become one. We rush to help those in need regardless of who they are. And during these Covid times, the same truth has yet again been revealed: we have to work together.
At a macro level, we have learned that only if we work together will we protect our health systems and those who work in them. And at a micro level, we have learned the importance of checking in on our family and friends to see how they are doing and the value when someone calls to check in on us. We have learned that a phone call is better than a text to feel connected to another human being and for them to feel connected to us. And as good as today's video calling technologies are, nothing compares to being there with each other. Many families living in quarantine are having family dinner together every single night. For the first time in a long time, we are slowing down, we are talking again and we are thinking about each other.
These are things that I hope remain when life returns to a new abnormal. I hope we remember the value of calling someone and preserving family dinner, at least once a week. I hope we remember the value of space, the time we get to spend doing things for ourselves or time we spend with our friends without interruption of any bings, buzzes or beeps.
Though this period has been filled with tragedy, we can come out of this as better versions of ourselves than when we went in. We can emerge more human. And that can only be a good thing.
Perspectives is a series of essays from Penguin authors offering their response to the Covid-19 crisis. A donation of £10,000 towards booksellers affected by Covid-19 has been made on behalf of the participants. Read more of the essays here.